Trinity Kitchen Preview


Not open to the public till Thursday, Ewan Mitchell went to an invite-only dry run for Trinity Kitchen …

Ask anybody who knows me in real life and they will tell you that I have an infuriating character trait. I choose to describe myself as being a sufferer of hype-aversion. My hype-aversion manifests itself whenever something is lauded by the masses as the next big thing. The thing I should care about, the book I should read, the film I should see, the band I should listen to or life will be meaningless and I’ll be the one who’s missed out.

Hype-aversion is the reason that I haven’t read or seen any of the Harry Potter books. It is the reason that I almost ruined a holiday in Barcelona as a friend had booked tickets to see the Arctic Monkeys, a band who I still don’t like, and I didn’t want to go. It is also a contributing factor to my feelings towards the Street Food scene/movement that is sweeping the nation.

Along with the hype; “Have you had the x-burger with the special ‘slaw yet? OMG it’s amazeballs!” which is enough to put me off instantly, I just can’t figure street food out, not in Britain anyway. To me British street food is, at best fish and chips, eaten from yesterday’s newspaper or, at the other end of the scale, a greasy donner kebab on the way home from the pub.

I am aware of street food’s credentials from around the globe. Lines of vendors specialising in mystery meat on a stick really appeals to my sense of adventure. The idea of browsing through colourful, ramshackle, jerry-built stalls on a balmy Summer’s evening is my idea of heaven. The idea of having a kebab from one stall, a small pot of soup from the next and then tucking into three or four more tempting food stuffs is my kind of night out.

Dodging rain showers on Briggate to get a burrito the size of your head is less appealing. Not only does our lovely climate limit the opportunities for eating outside, but the portions tend to be so generous that after finishing your first choice, you couldn’t eat from a second food stall if you wanted to. I’m not small of appetite, but more definitely seems to be more when it comes to British Street food. So much more that I often want a knife and fork, not to mention a table and chair to eat them from, and these are things that missing from Leeds’ public realm.

And that is where Trinity Kitchen comes in. Based on the third floor of Trinity, the kitchen is a new take on the standard food court that we’re used to in our shopping centres. Rather than the counters being around the outside of a large central, bland, noisy, messy seating area, the tenants in Trinity Kitchen are spaced individually so that they all have their own distinct feel about them. Alongside the seven permanent kitchens there is also a street market area that aims to bring the best of the UK Street Food scene indoors for the first time.

I was invited along to a dry run of Trinity Kitchen which I happily accepted. Lunch and the chance to have a nosey around before it opens on Thursday was too good an opportunity to pass up. My first impression of the space was that it was well laid out if a little warren like. The walls and pillars have been left unfinished and a lot of the fixtures are deliberately on display. In places I felt like I was on the set of Blade Runner only without the torrential rain, but I guess that’s the point of being indoors.

Unfortunately the five Street Food vendors, two of whom are from Leeds, were not up and running, but I had a fresh and healthy tasting bowl of Vietnamese noodles from Pho, one of the seven permanent brands. Conceptually, Trinity Kitchen is bridging the gap between Street Food and more traditional restaurants. Now you can get your artisan pulled pork wrap, sit down to enjoy it in a dry and air-conditioned environment, wash your hands in the convenient and clean public toilets and go on about your business. There are even highchairs for those of us who take our families with us at meal times.

But, if you remove the street from Street Food, what you are left with is food. Given the names that I have seen as future Street Market vendors and the range of permanent restaurants, there is going to be some really tasty food served too. But to me the romance and excitement that Street Food promises will still be missing. Trinity Kitchen is shaping up to be a vibrant addition to the Leeds eating scene; in fact I have a feeling that it will soon become the next big thing, the thing that you absolutely have to do, the place you have to eat in. I’m glad I got to it before the hype got to me.


  1. I’m really looking forwards to ‘the kitchen’ but my concern as mentioned above is the englishness of it.

    Street food should be £1 for a small portion at a number of stalls.

    What I fear is an American galleria, which are great but you need a knife and fork and it’s £5 for a meal that can’t be broken up.

  2. Ewan wrote: “But to me the romance and excitement that Street Food promises will still be missing.” That’s a big shame.

    What sounds weird to me is that this is not on a street – it’s housed in a giant shopping centre. It’s fantastic that there’s a rota of stalls that are allowing indie traders a crack at a lucrative market – if only the rest of Trinity had such an approach to indie trading, eh? – but it does sound there’s something rather contradictory about this whole concept.

    Still, tasty nosh is tasty nosh, so maybe the quality of what’s on offer might overcome such compromises.

  3. I went yesterday with every desire to be a sniffy intellectual about it, but then I was with such good company and the place was really good fun.I agree with Ewan it’s not my idea of the idea street food, but I do like the opportunity afforded to the local/smaller independents to have a go at reaching a bigger market in the dry.
    It was affordable, playful and exuberant.
    I’d love a way where you could get a ticket and have a bite sized portion from a number of different outlets, or even just pitch up with your own picnic with the kids, I’m guessing nobody would check up on you if you did?
    Wonder what the knock on will be on the already struggling food destination places elsewhere in the city, or will it have that effect of bringing more visitors into the centre of Leeds?

  4. That looks great. Very impressive. Looks classy. How does it feel in there, do you get the Street Food Festival vibe or is it more like being in a restaurant/cafe?

  5. I definitely thought there was a great vibe to the place, despite still being under construction, but I’m completely with Ewan on the street food concept. An event showcasing taster-size portions from different vendors would appeal perfectly to me… but I fear the reason we’ve not as yet seen this in Leeds is because we tend to cater to the “I just need to grab a quick lunch and get back to the office/shopping/drinking” crowd whilst also competing with the value for money (note – value representing “more for your pound” rather than “return on investment”, oh how I hate quantity over quality) attitude that would send these otherwise hungry people to Greggs or McDonalds for something cheap and nasty.

  6. Me and the missus popped in today. It, as you say Emma, an awful lot of fun, and it’s quite interesting to see the tension between it obviously being a very corporate space while housing some pretty free spirited entrepreneurs. However, it really doesn’t escape its geography and it is, to all intents and purposes, a (reasonably) upmarket food hall. Nowt wrong with that, of course, but it’s a long way from street food.

    Having said that, they’ve attracted some decent traders both permanent and temporary (though not all are that exciting – pizza, a rib joint – all very The Light). I had a fantastic burrito and bloody awesome flat whites (from Notes). We talked about afterwards and agreed we’d definitely pop in if we were in town. It’ll be particularly useful with the kids – we don’t all have to eat the same kind of thing, which they’ll love.

    One hilarious thing about the opening was the rather embarrassed reaction to the peculiarly incongruous dancing girls (and the horribly blaring salsa music, which thankfully wasn’t so deafening on the other side of the hall). We were chatting to one of the guys at Notes and he nailed it. He said: we’re British, for god’s sake, what’s with the dancing girls? Everyone just looks embarrassed. I looked around. And sure enough, they did. Still, I assume that’s just opening day razzmatazz and you won’t have to stare at your shoes and wait for a girl in a feather boa to shimmy past you on a quiet Tuesday while you tuck into some noodles.

    So, yeah, a reasonably worthy addition to Leeds, but it’s not going to rival the city’s truly indie food venues. Luckily, we have a fair few of those knocking about town.

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